The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima (Book Review YA)
This young adult fantasy fiction is the first book in the Heir Trilogy published in 2006. The photo of the sword is what caught my eye in the beginning, soon followed by a need to purchase the book after reading the back cover introduction of a young man holding a magical sword. I was hooked; and stayed up late into the wee hours once I reached the last quarter of the book to learn how the story ended. The book is fast paced with plenty of plot twists, multiple characters with intriguing names. There were a variety of relationships within the story, complete with historical references, well described action sequences, and suspense.
In the small Ohio town of Trinity, Jackson Swift (Jack) is living the life of any 16-year old except the daily medicine he takes for heart surgery he had as an infant. The day Jack skips his medicine he loses control of his new found strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.
Jack and his loyal friends, Will and Fitch, accompany his Aunt Linda on a road trip to locate information on their family’s genealogy and a family heirloom. The tedious fact-finding turns dangerous when the three boys discover Linda is being stalked by a man wanting to steal the heirloom. During a nighttime visit to an old cemetery, the boys are attacked after Jack discovers a medieval sword with magical powers buried by the grave of his ancestor, Susannah Downey. The boys manage to evade their attackers by seeking refuge in a church.
The truth about Jack’s heritage is slowly revealed by his Aunt Linda, an Enchanter: that he is Weirlind, belonging to an underground society of the Magical Guild of wizards, enchanters, soothsayers and sorcerers who live among us. Within the magical society sit the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game, a magical tournament, where each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.
With his true identity revealed, his uniqueness of being one of the last warriors has made him a target of the ruthless wizards, seeking to find a warrior to fight in the tournaments. Jack’s Aunt Linda arranges for him to begin the necessary skills training to use the powerful sword with Leander Hastings, a wizard with a mysterious past.
Interspersed with Jack’s intensive training to master the ways of the Warrior and soccer practice, he is torn between his attraction to Ellen Stephenson, a new student at Trinity High School, and Leesha Middleton, his former girlfriend who wants him back.
Jack goes to the Lake District of England via a high-stakes chase filled with treachery courtesy of Dr. Longbranch, his heart surgeon, and the Roses. There he is confronted by the greatest challenge of his life.
The story has a satisfactory ending tying up most of the loose strings, leaving a few that hint they might be answered in a later book.